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Whenever readers or workshop audience members initiate conversations and ask questions, it is so much easier to write blog content.

I doubt that is a unique situation.

If you are looking to find more ideas for your content marketing strategy, have you tried mining your organization’s daily customer conversations?

Tap into open-ended customer conversations already taking place with sales, customer service, executives, technical staff, drivers, retail associates, e-commerce and social media staff, market researchers, and any other employees interacting with customers whether in-person or virtually.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Additionally, create new opportunities to capture customer conversations through listening posts you create. These are specific interactions you create to capture additional inputs from customers about your brand and its products and services. It could be as simple as actually capturing the feedback from questions you are already having your employees ask customers during routine interactions. It might extend, however, to doing something completely new to find out what customers are asking or saying about your brand.

4 Customer Conversations and Content Marketing Strategy Ideas

How do you turn these conversations into content marketing possibilities?

One way is to think about the conversations based on their nature (statements vs. questions) and tone (positive to negative). Categorizing customer conversations along these two dimensions is a first step toward turning them into content using the matrix below.

  • Positive statements can suggest ways to highlight brand value.
  • Positive questions turn into education opportunities
  • Negative comments are opportunities to anticipate objectives and challenges other customers are facing but not voicing.
  • Negative questions open the door to both process changes to address pain points and update opportunities for what your brand is doing in these areas.

Customer-Convo-Med

Effectively mining customer conversations sets you up to expand content you can be better assured is relevant to customers and prospects because THEY are generating the topics!  – Mike Brown

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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These five articles stood out this week in our core content areas of strategic thinking, creativity, and social media and content marketing. Each of them is worth a click and a look!

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1. Ten Ways to Weave Creativity into your Classroom!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State and her co-author, Julia Figliotti, have released a new book on creativity: Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum. (Affiliate Link) To develop the book, they reached out to more than one hundred educators and creativity-focused experts for creativity ideas. The resulting book features more than seven hundred ideas. In this blog post, they highlight their ten favorite ideas. Even if you’re not an educator, this post is worth checking out because nearly all the creativity ideas and tips also apply directly to the workplace.

2. The $50 Billion Question: Can Uber Deliver?

I’ll come right out and admit I don’t “get” Uber. Realizing that puts my WAY in the minority, this Wall Street Journal article about Uber trying to get into the delivery business (just one of several Uber-realted articles in the Journal this week), includes several refreshing contrarian voices. Products don’t find the vehicle at pickup or make their way into the final destination at delivery on their own. They are also perishable in a variety of ways. That means even if Uber is working for people, it’s not necessarily a quick translation to moving products.

3. CVS to Buy 1,600 Drugstores from Target for $1.9 Billion

CVS buying the Target pharmacy operation is an intriguing strategic thinking example. Two brands competing in several retail categories are planning to co-exist and create mutual benefits for both. It’s a great example of two brands engaging in an unusual strategic relationship that fits both of their near- and longer-term plans. Combing through multiple takes on the story yielded multiple strategic thinking questions a brand can use to expand its list of potential competitors and partners.

4. Stop Sending Traffic to Your Homepage: 3 Reasons Why Landing Pages Convert More Visitors into Leads

I saw this post on LinkedIn, but this is the original link from Mike Whaling at 30Lines. Mike helped us set up our initial landing pages. This is a great reminder about one of the keys to online and content marketing that many businesses miss.

5. From the Brainzooming Archives: Social Media Moments of Silence – 5 Areas to Monitor during Tragedies

This article arose from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, CT and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. There was a lot of talk at the time about brands needing to recognize a moment of silence when major tragedies take place. As of the publication date, I haven’t heard the same talk following the tragic shootings in Charleston, SC, but it seems like a comparable tragedy that should have warranted a bigger national pause than seems to have taken place. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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We have said it before, but it warrants repeating: Not all the great content you share has to be completely new content.

Content Marketing Creativity

Any organization likely has a treasure trove of older, historical, and archival content that retains interest and engagement value for new audiences. Doing something to repurpose old content simply requires content marketing creativity!

This was highlighted this past weekend at a family reunion, intriguingly enough. My maternal grandfather’s family of eleven brothers and one sister was a very musical family. Various groups of brothers (including my mom’s dad) formed and played in dance bands from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Freddy-Joe-CD

One of the reunion organizers had the idea to locate, digitize, and clean up recordings from The Freddy Joe Band, one of the bands from the 1940s. My parents supplied several cassette tapes for the CD project. Others did the musical enhancements, along with designing the packaging and writing liner notes. The result was a wonderful remembrance of both the most recent reunion and a significant aspect of the family’s history for a new audience that had never experienced the band.

4 Questions to Repurpose Old Content for New Audiences

This experience suggests four content marketing creativity questions brands can ask and answer to mine and repurpose old content:

  • Does audio and video content exist that tells little-known, but intriguing factoids about the brand’s early days?
  • What rarely-seen photographs (or video) show early employees, customers, and products that have historical value?
  • Who knows stories about the circumstances of how people used early products that provide interesting comparisons to today?
  • Are there lessons learned from the brand’s early days that would still benefit a new audience of customers today?

With just a little content marketing creativity, you can save time and also open up new audiences to engaging aspects of your brand that are so old they are new! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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While it may seem far fetched, many organizations are already thinking about getting ready for strategic planning for next year. There’s a great advantage to investing time in early summer to identify changes to last year’s business strategy development process based on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you hope to accomplish for next year.

As you think about who to involve in developing business strategy for your organization, we’ve been talking for years about important groups to include:

We’ve been talking more recently about the three types of voices to incorporate into strategic planning visioning exercises – familiar voices, challenger, voices, and emerging voices.

Group-Watercolor

As you think about developing business strategy, however, there are three other perspectives to consider. You need people participating in strategic planning that are:

  • Familiar with the past
  • Grounded in what’s happening right now
  • Capable of imagining the future

As with the strategic thinking perspectives (business experience, functional expertise, creative energy), it’s rare that one individual will be strong at all these perspectives.

As you think about your entire planning team, we recommend listing the likely people for developing business strategy and then see which roles each of them satisfies. You can then look for where you have critical gaps in experience and perspectives. At that point you can be very selective and pin point the new people you need to add to the strategy team. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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With the resignation of Dick Costolo as Twitter CEO, you are sure to see a rash of articles talking about Twitter’s problems, that Twitter is doomed, or how its potential business model changes will impact your business.

And ALL those stories may very well be true.

The thing is…smart companies realize social media strategy shouldn’t focus on building strategies around particular social media networks.

Smart companies are concentrating on solid business strategy moves to prepare them to start, grow, and nurture relationships with prospects and customers on their own terms – not the terms a social network stipulates.

Four-Twitter-Avatars

Yes, a smart company may be using Twitter to engage an audience. But it is always going to ready to transition among social networks – or other engagement strategies – should a social media network happen to go away.

A smart company concentrates on developing:

Yes, every organization should be focusing on these types of strategies.

These strategies will serve your business well no matter the Twitter CEO or what’s happening with any of the old, new, or yet to be imagined social networks.

No matter what articles full of social media network hyperbole have to say, focus on your own business strategy. – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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Looking for a place to come when you need a creative boost? Here are some of our most popular articles on creativity and the skills involved in creative thinking.

Use it yourself or share it with others to get your Brainzooming and help make creativity something that is part of daily life rather than a special event!

Dilbert-Creative-Thinking

Creative Thinking Skills

7 Important Creative Thinking Skills

21 Talents and Creative Thinking Skills to Cherish in Creative Friends

6 Tips for Sharing and Receiving Creative Ideas

Faking Creative Thinking Skills in a Live Setting

A 5-Part Creative Thinking Formula

6 Challenges Before Loving Your New Idea Too Much

A 7 Lesson Guide to Creating by Jessica James

5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally

17 Articles on Pitching Creative Ideas

4 Ideas for Safely Sharing Dirty Ideas and Thinking

Creative-Idea

Staying Creative

Take 10 Minutes to Start Your Inspiration Inventory

7 Ideas to Get the Most from Your Creativity Daily

5 Assets to Avoid Mental Bankruptcy

34 Ideas for a Bored Adult to Beat Boredom

Create-At-All-Times

Using Analogies to Generate Creative Ideas

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Can Analogies Change the World?

Comparing Apples and Oranges 7 Ways

12 Triggers for Finding Strategic Connections

The Opposite of Creative Thinking

8 Clues You Are an Idea Slasher

29 Phrases Blocking Innovative Ideas

Creative Thinking: REALLY? We Do NOT Have Time for Creativity? REALLY?

How Creative Thinking Gets Killed by Team Members – 8 Fatal Blows

Mike Brown

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Recently, the “Inside the Executive Suite” executive newsletter from Armada Executive Intelligence turned its attention to strategic thinking exercises and possibilities for breakthrough thinking. Their story was based on a review of two new books on the topic of insights. The books and the article were intriguing, and the folks at Armada Executive Intelligence gave us permission to re-run the piece here.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – 5 Breakthrough Thinking Possibilities

(via Armada Executive Intelligence)

How do you personally generate successful breakthrough thinking?

Do your methods compare favorably to approaches of the great thinkers of history? Additionally, are there proven lessons you can apply in specific types of situations?

Thinker

The last two questions are addressed in new books featured in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal Review section. William B. Irvine’s, “Aha! The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World,” and “The Eureka Factor” by cognitive neuroscientists, John Kounios and Mark Beeman, both address insights – the result of people achieving deep, accurate understanding of an issue facing them.

Irvine’s book presents case studies on the thinking approaches of history’s greatest thinkers. The Kounios and Beeman book examines, as much as is possible, the scientific basis for developing insights.

Irvine’s book highlights varied, successful insight patterns. In science and mathematics, doing something unrelated to the current task is common before generating breakthrough thinking. He credits religious insights as emerging from actual experience; with moral issues, insights vary in appearing after extended reflection or through sudden revelation. When new thinking depends on creative thinking, they tend to emerge after establishing a solid foundation of work leading to insights that emerge later.

What Works to Generate Breakthrough Thinking?

Figuring out how your situation ties to which type of insight pattern may seem confusing. That’s why we advocate for what Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling said: “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

You can extend this concept to developing insights. It’s helpful to employ a full repertoire of thinking techniques to produce many potential insights to fuel breakthrough thinking.

We’ve seen, tried, and returned to various approaches to trigger breakthrough insights. Here are several possibilities when you have to consistently introduce new insights in an organizational setting.

1. Sorting Out What You Know

From all the available potential facts and conclusions, sort them based on ones you KNOW to be true versus others you THINK to be true or HOPE to be true. This exercise helps identify how strong your foundation is for generating new insights.

Are most of your points of information and conclusions already proven to be true? Do you need to develop proof points (if you only THINK much of the information is true) or conduct additional, novel research or analysis (if you simply HOPE the ideas are true)?

Based on what you find, there are natural questions to firm up your fact base:

  • For information and conclusions known to be true: What new insights are suggested by what we already know?
  • For what you only think to be true, ask: What will it take to prove each of these as true or false?
  • For those you hope to be true ask: What stands in the way of vetting this information? If it were true, what new insights might it help uncover?

You can use your answers to take the appropriate steps to solidify your fact base so it is more robust.

2. Assembling the Insight Puzzle

Generating insights in a business setting is akin to assembling puzzle pieces. Extending that comparison creates an actual puzzle-solving exercise.

We worked with a consultant who would print every major known fact supporting a potential strategy and on a separate piece of paper. Each business strategist received a set of facts to combine, rearrange, and “play” with as a child would play with building blocks. Some arrangements of the facts might be simple and others more complex. The overall goal was for each individual to separately identify interesting combinations to look for new potential insights.

While there are advantages to printing out and physically arranging the facts, there are many options to work with the facts in a collaborative online environment.

Regardless of how you do it, after the initial work, strategists compare their insights, looking for similarities, differences, and new ways the individual work can generate additional insights.

3. Different Perspectives on the Insights Puzzle

We also find value in consciously looking at facts from different perspectives to trigger new insights. You can accomplish this with creative thinking exercises.

Breakthrough-Pinnacle

For generating insights, one approach to looking at your information from alternative perspectives is by consciously using various “modifiers” to probe your fact base in multiple ways. This list of modifiers below is one we typically use. Simply insert the modifier into this question: What if we looked at this information (or situation) in a more ______ way?

  • Focused
  • Simplified
  • Integrated
  • Broad
  • Diversified
  • Sophisticated
  • Extreme
  • Contrary
  • Long-term
  • Immediate

Using these types of modifiers will point you in multiple productive directions as you attempt to develop new insights.

4. Invite More People to Look at the Puzzle

Each step to this point involved you or your immediate team. You can expand potential insights by inviting a broader, more diverse group to consider the available information. Including new minds creates an opportunity to identify additional insights, especially ones a group more familiar with a status quo understanding of the situation might struggle to imagine.

5. Get Away Briefly…or Longer

If your insight-generating efforts are unproductive, step away for a short period of time. You may even find it beneficial to stay away longer.

Taking a break agrees with the idea that your previous efforts to generate insights may simply have been foundation-setting that needs time for less structured and casual thinking. A pause can be beneficial in fully exploiting your foundation as a platform for new insights.

Is there a road to breakthrough thinking that works best for you?

The key to generating breakthrough thinking in our experience is that they sometimes come through using tested methods and sometimes through completely new approaches. That requires flexibility on your part. – Armada Executive Intelligence

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





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